International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year China:
4th 1989: Massacre
in Tiananmen Square Several hundred civilians have been shot dead by the
Chinese army during a bloody military operation to crush a democratic
protest in Peking's (Beijing) Tiananmen Square. Tanks rumbled through
the capital's streets late on 3 June as the army moved into the square
from several directions, randomly firing on unarmed protesters. The injured
were rushed to hospital on bicycle rickshaws by frantic residents shocked
by the army's sudden and extreme response to the peaceful mass protest.
- Twenty years On
by the Chinese government to suppress press and internet discussions
of the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre only substantiate
my argument that China can never aspire to establishing a full-blown
capital market in Shanghai by 2020, which is its stated intention.
China still detains
up to 30 democracy protestors who were given the life sentences or death
sentences that were commuted to life imprisonment for their activities
of 20 years ago. This in addition to the thousands whose lives were
forever ruined by the government for the crime of holding a peaceful
Basically, Im no moralist, but who would want to invest in a country
where the population has no rights, where there are no effective laws
or courts, where disputes are settled on the basis of personal connections
to politically powerful figures, where intellectuals, journalists and
artists have no freedom of expression that is not officially sanctioned,
where financial reporting that can be considered detrimental to financial
interests is outlawed under penalty of imprisonment.
Lets say your company decides to manufacture photovoltaic cells
in China and some politically connected guy decides to go into competition
against you, stealing your processes; interfering with your suppliers;
not allowing you to ship; arranging to have your books audited. What
are your going to do, sue him? You cant even complain to the press,
for fear of being charged with economic sabotage. Even if some publication
listened to your complaints, they would never publish them.
This is an old story. Handbag manufacturers who contracted with Chinese
contractors found out that the contractors were producing an equivalent
amount of pieces, which went out the back door and into the gray goods
market. They tried suing them in court and ended up getting judgments
for a few hundred measly renminbi. Ultimately, the only way to work
in China is by establishing personal contacts, which, in plain English,
means paying more out in bribes than your competitors.
I am not even going to address the morality of this mess, because the
Republicans have cornered the market in terms of moralistic hypocrisy
and I dont want to contaminate myself by associating with them.
But strictly from a standpoint of practicality, the only thing that
keeps American corporations in China is the fantastic tax breaks that
allow companies to warehouse their profits in offshore banking havens
until Congress periodically passes tax amnesties that allow them to
repatriate the money tax-free on the basis of promises to invest it,
which never happens. The money goes into a black hole of structured
finance deals that no auditor can ever hope to decipher.
If Obama keeps his promise to tax these overseas profits at the same
rate as domestic income, American producers will make the determination
that its more practical to set up business in places like Michigan,
which has unlimited surplus capacity, a motivated workforce, enforceable
laws and functioning courts and governmental transparency.
People have more freedom to express themselves than they have ever had
before. They have got every kind of toy imaginable, and the end result
is that they end up using all their junk to conform like a bunch of
Thats their choice. What do I care? Give me a harmonica and a
pencil and paper and Im happy, though nobody else even can stand
me at all boo-hoo!
- 60 Years On Just
keeps getting Better (Orwell's
novel first published June 8th 1949)
In the Peoples Republic of China you dont have the right
to decide to be an idiotic conformist twit. The government gets to decide
that for you. In a public relations blunder that makes even Dick Cheney
look like a freakin genius by comparison, the Chinese government, on
exactly the twentieth anniversary of the Tienanmen massacre, has issued
a directive that mandates that all personal computers sold in that country
must be fitted with software that can be controlled by the central authorities
to block any internet content that it deems to be "harmful".
Not only that. This software, which is euphemistically labeled "Green
Dam Youth Escort", can monitor all computer use and transmit
anything useful back to Control Central. Basically, this marks the end
of freedom of expression in China, if it ever existed, which it never
has. Going back to the ancient royal dynasties, it used to be common
practice to bury writers alive if they wrote anything "harmful".
Naturally, computers manufacturers Hewlett Packard and Dell Computer,
who respectively enjoy China market shares of 13.7% and 8.1%, have raised
no objections. Its this process of sucking outside interests into
complicity with police state tactics if they want to continue to do
business in the Chinese market that makes the arrangement all the more
insidious. People want to make money, and rightfully so, but if you
end up helping the authorities turn the population into a mindless herd
of subservient barnyard creatures reminiscent of George Orwells
"Animal Farm", what is the price of your soul?
Forget about industrial espionage. In todays China, where there
is no distinction between the bureaucracy and business interests, your
competitors have only to monitor your emails to know everything youre
up to. I daresay, it doesnt exactly require a Great Leap Forward
to figure out that there is not one foreign company doing business in
China that is not being spied upon by its own Chinese employees, who
were implanted there for the express purpose of learning its industrial
Chinese business practices do not travel well. Taiwan recently refused
permission for an attempt by Chinese mobile operator China Mobile to
get its hooks into FarEasTone. The Australian government and stockholders
rebelled against an agreement that would have allowed Chinalco to double
its stake in Rio Tinto, even though Rio Tinto is desperate for money.
Who can blame these countries? Nobody wants to do business with a country
that combines police state repression with mafia business ethics.
I doubt that China will ever grant me a visa to travel there. I guess
I can forget my ambition to swim in the worlds biggest polluted
© Dean Borok June 9th 2009
never believed in the durability of the previous economic bubble when
I saw the quality of the knuckleheads getting rich
U.S. press corps is pathetically myopic. They have the depth and consistency
of processed cheese slices, knowing nothing of American history and
even less than nothing about the lessons of world history
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